They Might Be Giants

When a society decays, it is language that is first to become gangrenous. As a result, social criticism begins with grammar and the re-establishing of meanings.

? Octavio Paz,  The Labyrinth of Solitude and Other Writings

It’s become clear to me that almost anyone penning anything that gets stuffed into any number of hundreds of “news” or “opinion” digital dungeons believes that their take on the world, on global affairs, on the political nightmares, on the various financial and military and digital happenings and what have you is, well, somehow theirs is a uniquely formed commentary to add something new and penetrating to the already hundreds of daily articles on Afghanistan or on the Pan-Plan-En-DEMIC.

I’ll give it to them, for sure, but how many pieces containing more or less 90 percent similar views and “facts” on a given subject really do much for humanity. I see the world from a different lens, and sure, it’s fun to rumble in the jungle looking at Biden-Wall Street-MIC-Trump-Celebrity Culture-Scientism-Entertainment-Media-Medicine-Et Al, but when I get down to brass tacks, I look at the ground level stories, sometimes about one person or family or situation at a time, to understand the larger issue of this perverse, predatory and people-killing Capitalism.

Yep, of course, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Earth Charter, and the Golden Rule, those are great starts to abide by. Survival International, looking at and from indigenous communities’ perspectives and needs, that too is A-Okay. Yet, sometimes, it’s one person at a time to understand the fragility of belief systems, or economic systems that not only rape-pollute-colonize land-air-water-soil-life, but put so many of my fellow women and men behind the eight ball, AKA, in the sights of those ruthless elites and their armies of Eichmann’s and thugs.

A mark and sucker and victim and limping along-useless-eater-but-useful-exploitable-breeder may be born every nanosecond in the eyes of the overlords of corporations and the boardroom beasts of banks and Military Everything/Everywhere Industrial Complex, but to winnow through that and spend time with one of those soon-to-be-victims-of-capitalism, for me, that is the narrative flow and truth I am more interested in these days.

Big City Boy in a Townie Coastal Hamlet

It does feel lonely out here, even among the 600 harbor seals just outside our door, on sand spits in their haul-outs after going for the salmon running up and down the Alsea River. A hundred bird sightings, sure, in a month. Green hitting the Pacific. A constant snake of cars and RVs and logging trucks up and down Highway 101. A pretty cool bridge just outside the window on the near horizon.

I’ve written about this area, the original home of the Alsi Tribe, a place, like in most of Turtle Island, which was never given or sold to and rented to the white man. We are, in so many places, entrenched on sacred and holy ground, on burial mounds.

This day, a few days ago, I was kicking up speed on the bicycle when I saw a fellow — big, nice sternum-touching beard — unloading cedar pickets from a truck into a garage. It’s a nice family home on a corner near the USPS, and I have been trying to get help putting up a cedar fence, so, much so that it’s been four months, or three, since the first fellow came out, said he’d do it, and never followed through. Two others came out, and two others failed to follow through.

Let’s call him Clint, and I said hello, and he seemed a bit skeptical of me showing up inside his fence, but soon, we hit it off. I asked about his fence, and he gave me the names and numbers for a landscaping team, father-son, that did his work for him. He made sure to let me know they were not bonded, and, well, that’s the way I want to go. The father-son is Mexican. The son, let’s call him Enrique, went to school with Clint. The middle school in Waldport.

“When he was first here, all he’d do is draw farm equipment and fields of corn. He didn’t speak English, but he did say, ‘I want go home Mexico.’ He’s my friend, and he speaks and read English so well that he helps his father with he contracts and bills and translation.”

While I was anxious to contact Pedro’s Landscaping, I spent time with Clint to learn his story. That is how I roll, and within one 25-year-old’s story the entire country and entire financial and entire educational and political system sometimes are anchored.

He was on a two-month respite before resuming the Alaska fishing he’s been engaged in shortly after he dropped out of high school. He’s got buddies who also dropped out, but who also got hooked into the drug scene, boozing and helping justify the criminal injustice systems of cells, ankle bracelets, militarized cops, overpaid arrogant judges, DAs who lie, and all the attendants in the system.

Clint never got into drugs, and he said his drinking — not super heavy — just interfered with his relationship to his girlfriend who is the mother of their six-year-old daughter. So he quit.

Clint was brought up by an alcoholic mother and never had much to do with a violent and absent father. Clint did not like school, and he says he probably had this or that learning “issue,” but in the end, Clint got his act together, left school at 16, never looked back, and never got a GED. He stated that he bought the house I was at age 22, and that last year he made upwards of $130,000 as a fisherman for Alaskan fleets. For most of his friends who did graduate high school, they are living poor lives, working for minimum wage, still living with parents; and some with college, they are straddled with minimum wage jobs and huge school loan debts.

This story is not the story of those elites from the Ivy League or the top (sic) 100 schools. I know because I have been to a few of them (not getting my degrees from them, however), and I have family that tends to rah-rah those schools, as if they are the Holy Grail. I have met with and interviewed many people (authors, scientists, creatives) from those so-called elite institutions. I have organized for a union at Georgetown U. I have been to a huge conference in Mexico City with higher education people, mostly adjuncts, many of whom come from elite schools. Even in my three degree programs at state colleges/universities, many of my professors were graduates of the elite schools. I was never impressed with those laurels.

But the point is that I consume so much from the elites’ research, from their books, from their journalism, and from their literature as in fiction. It is a daily reminder of the chosen few either leaving out the 80 percent of the USA population, or writing about us. Writing about Adverse Childhood experiences, ACES. Writing about socio-economic determinates of life, success, failure, perseverance, incarceration rates, poverty, medical health outcomes. The elites writing about high blood pressure, about African Americans’ weathering taking them out earlier than their white counterparts;  about racist environmental policies. The elites and chosen ones even write the scripts for Breaking Bad shit, or all the novels and such penned in American Mainstream Literature. The elites take our pulse in the doctor’s offices, in the school offices, in the financial offices. The elites prosecute us, persecute us, penalize us, tax us, redline us, vilify us, joke about us.

So Clint is there, working hard, even offering to help me pick up cedar pickets and the supplies two hours away in Eugene, to save a buck. Clint with his eye toward fixing up the place and selling it. “I want to get out of this town. I’ve lived here my entire life.”

He’s got American Terriers, or bulldogs, what a lot of people mislabel as pit bulldogs. He had Pedro’s Landscaping build a fence, and he had it go six feet tall facing the road for the dogs. Under penalty of Waldport City ordinances, however, it has to be 42 inches, with 48 more or less allowed. The judgment was/is to cut it down to 42-48 inches. The verdict is to fine a $1000 a day for the violation. He was in rough waters in Alaska, fishing for those elites loving their fish fresh. Imagine that, the city code Nazi’s, at a $1000 a day. Similarly, the fine for some elderly disabled woman up the road, in Newport, was $1500 for front yard grass too long. This is the elites’ game. City managers with binoculars, and now drones with CCTV, looking in people’s yards, looking for weeds, or old automobiles propped up on bricks. Looking for fences too high (sic) or buildings on the property bigger than 10 x 20 feet that will need a permit pulled, a permit that, of course, costs money.

[So, this fellow in the trailer above, set up along the beach, in Waldport, and it was in daylight. I am not sure if he intended to camp there for the night, but the City Manager called the rent-a-sheriffs. They forced him off the property. I talked with the two deputies. They say more and more people are “squatting.” They talk about how it is a $3000 bill to the county and cities for removing trailers or broken down RVs. They seemed sympathetic, but at $30 an hour plus double, $60, an hour overtime, the cops are making out like bandits in a county that still pays $13 an hour at checkouts and in hotel rooms as maids.]

That’s an aside, for sure, since it was a day before I met Clint, but it is, again, emblematic of the failures of empire, and I don’t need no stinking commentary to add to the failures of Afghanistan, of the money managers, of the World Economic Forum. Failures of the Trump and Biden camps, spewing bullshit. I don’t need to add to the discourse on how bad Canada is/was with Haiti. Add to the EU’s sickening siding with USA on Venezuela. Do I need to add to the Israel question? Just wading into that muck gets one not only cancelled, but Mossad-ed out, Eighty-Sixed.

If I penned something like this, from Linh Dinh, I’d be Googled out of existence in USA:

White Flagged America,”

When Ichiro played in the Major Leagues, he was always hounded by a mob of Japanese journalists and photographers, starting with the first day of Spring Training.

Sick of this, he told an interviewer he wished they would just disappear.

“From your life?”

“No, from this earth.”

The USA, though, is not being pestered but deformed, debilitated and, well, frankly destroyed by a host of people, many of whom you may not have heard of, so let’s us:

Imagine there’s no George Soros, No Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch or Klaus Schwab, too. No Jeff Zucker, Mark Zuckerberg, Arthur Sulzberger, Jonathan Greenblatt, Larry Fink, David Solomon, Robert Iger, Charles Scharf, Jamie Dimon, Steve Schwarzman, Jeremy Zimmer, Len Blavatnik,  Andy Slavitt, Jeffrey Zients, Anthony Fauci, Jessica Rosenworcel, Janet Yellen, Gary Gensler, Betsy Berns Korn, Mort Fridman or, what the hell, Nancy Pelosi also, mostly because she’s so icky.

Even more than most lists, it’s highly incomplete, but you get the idea. Or maybe not. It’s too eclectic, you say, if not confusing. What do they have in common? They are all social engineers, out to remake America in ways that have nothing to do, at least initially, with the wishes of its majority, so there goes your democracy. As new norms are relentlessly propagandized, legalized then imposed, most Americans will learn to embrace their newly cowed, castrated selves.

The point is that Clint has a family, and is dealing with the Man in many forms. Fence too high. Viscous dog ordinance, even though his dogs are not vicious. He even almost got run over by some business woman, while Clint was on his Harley. He posted that fact on the local city Facebook page, and, well, it was taken down. No cussing, no threats, and respectful, but that was too much for the FB administrator.

Like many in his camp, who dropped out of High School and ended up doing something, working hard, yes, in a dangerous profession, Alaska fishing, he wants a few acres out of town, to grow food, raise a family, home school children, and maybe get a rig so he can move logs and such to keep money flowing in. We are talking about age 35 as his goal.

I taught in those schools where he and his Mexican friend, Enrique, went. The K12 system before the planned endemic was bad-bad-bad, and now, it is a complete shit show. This fellow works, his wife works and he is honest. The systems of oppression have not gotten him yet, nor have they gotten him down, and he is a success. And another load of Elites will write about that guy, the white guy, though, as I found out, he is from a Guatemalan Spaniard father.

Elites (white, many identifying as Jewish) writing about poverty, about the white protestant in the USA, about the poor, the druggies, about the criminals, about Latinos and Blacks and Asians. These Elites, the Chosen Ones, have a direct line to publishers, producers and the like. And they will write on and on about all those demographics they themselves are only witnesses to, or somehow involved in from the middle/upper middle/rich class point of view.

Millionaire union heads, like that one with the American Federation of Teachers. Look at her:

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[Viewpoint: AFT’s Refusal to Challenge Democratic Establishment Leaves Every Teacher Behind — AFT President and Biden. Lovefest!]

Again, Enrique and Clint, they are the Americans, the ones working hard. Before I shift to Enrique, the final moment in Clint’s driveway was when we both heard a blood curdling scream. A 12-year-old boy was screaming across the street. “Oh, that’s Alan, and he is severely autistic. He lives with his grandmother. His mom was a meth user while she was pregnant, and his father is a piece of shit, violent, a thief.”

It turned out that Alan was messing with a T-ball bat, and hit a rock accidently up to a second story window, and broke it. “No, no, no,” he screamed and cried. “I can’t pay for that. I am in trouble. I can’t pay for that.”

His grandmother came out, and settled the boy down. I recognized Alan (pseudonym) from my substituting up the hill at the middle school, in the special education room. The grandmother was wrinkled before her time, and she had to get to a PT appointment, but had no car, no driver’s license. She told us that the apartment owners will just tell her to pay for a window installer. “The owners do nothing around here for us.”

Autism, drug abuse, all those elite doctors and psychiatrists, all those practitioners, all those TED Talk celebrities, lecturing the world on childhood diseases, all the intellectual disabilities, all the chronic illnesses, chronic depression, chronic poverty, chronic criminality, chronic failures, yep, expect another load of books coming out during this endemic, from the white elites, mostly east coast, many, the Chosen People, making their money and lecturing us, even high-horsing people like me who is just as educated in the college sense, and more traveled, and, hell, more experienced in many more fields than the elites who have podcasts or get onto Democracy Now or CBS or CNN.

Back Breaking But Honest

Enrique and his dad, Javier, came out, and we talked about the fence project. In Spanish. Javier has been in USA for 20 years. Five children, four born in Mexico. His hat was emblazoned with Hildago and the eagle and the serpent. He and I talked a lot about Mexico, since I have traveled all over, and we swapped stories about the jungle, la selva, and places like Palenque, and where his family hails from, Mexico City. He works hard, pays workers $25 an hour, under the table, and we talked about narcos and politicians and why Mexico, with 80 percent of the population good and hardworking, family oriented, how it is that the military, corrupt mayors/governors/senators/presidents and the drug kingpins and their thugs have overtaken the land. All those drugs in the noses and in the veins of North Americans, Europeans!

We talked about Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata.

See the source image
Pancho Villa
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If there is not justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government.
I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.
The land belongs to those who work it with their hands.
Emiliano Zapata
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[The Palenque builders used plaster to obtain a smooth finish, unlike the usual Mayan tooled-limestone construction. However, they used carving on the interior walls; the best examples are on tablets affixed to the walls with plaster. Stucco and terra-cotta images have been found. The elaborate palace complex includes three parallel walls housing two corridors covered with pointed vaults of the Palenque style.]

This is reality, and Javier states that he can’t find young guys to work as landscapers and fence builders. At $25 an hour. “They’d rather work minimum wage in a fast-food restaurant. Inside. Watching their phones. It is not how I grew up.”

Complicated, my relationship with Mexicans, people of the land, manual laborers. They to me, in most instances, are princes, when they are good and loyal and don’t end up drinking and womanizing. In any case, I have more robust conversations with guys like Javier than I do with any number of liberals or Trumpies or friends who identify as woke and hippy.

I have nothing in common with the very people I ended up in a graduate program — regional and urban planning. Code enforcers. The developers’ amigos. Cushy jobs with cities and counties. Beautiful people. Hikers and bicyclists. Professional Managerial Class who travel here and there and talk about walkability, about New Urbanism, about sustainability design. But at the end of the day, they are facilitators of the construction (building and paving) tycoons. They talk a nice game around LEAD Platinum and Climate Change mitigation, but in the end, they, for the most part, are just cogs in the system. Not squeaky wheels. Very disheartening for me.

These fellows — Clint, Enrique and Javier of Pablo’s Landscaping — they are not going to read this blog, they are not going to buy my books, they are not going to attend a literary reading planned for August 27 in Portland. That is the shame and the sham of this Capitalist society — that my bright idea on community spaces, on education, on collectivism, on intentional and shared communities isn’t scaled up — generating the various levels of strata, casts, deplorable people, disposable people, all the useless breeders/breathers/eaters, in the minds of the elites.

Imagine a world where right out the gates we have pre-school in gardens, in teepees, around fires, with others older there, to teach. Outdoor experiences. Learning to grow, fish, harvest, can food. Building tiny homes for the houseless. Doing the work of cutting wood and making woodcut art. All the hands on learning, and the play acting, the art, the music. Real teachers, and real communities, and, from cradle to cradle. No more warehousing of youth. No more jobs just for the shitty health insurance. No more school-to-complaint little or big Eichmann enforcer or follower. No more warehouses for the poor.

Yeah, this is still a land of Bubbas and Sweet Mean Charlottes. A land of ignorance and just plain mean, and racist. But look at Clint. Look at Enrique. Look deeper into the hearts of these people who are for all intents and purposes NOT mainstream subjects for the elites’ studies or projects. Do all people need to write poetry? Well, maybe. Play music? Of course. Create art and sculptures and blow glass and use a potter’s wheel and grow lettuce and learn how to guy fish and poultry, learn how to build a fire on the land, and in the belly. Yep!

Of course, a majority of the 80 percent will respond with dignity, interest and collective knowledge way beyond any cabal of elites determining the futures and histories and lives of us, the lowly Eighty Percent.

It is a dream, and we all might be giants!

Check it out —  Dissident Voice: “All the World’s a Stage … Except in our Own Backyards! all it takes is a cool seven million smackeroos to build that field of dreams

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.